Wyrinther and Elêganor
Seymour de Winter waited in the shadows, counting his breaths. The cumbersome food trolley sat, empty and abandoned, around a corner. He hoped that no one would happen upon it and become suspicious, but that was out of his control now. Actually, there were quite a few things that seemed to be out of his control at present, including his mounting anxiety.
That was why he was counting his breaths.
The Aechyed closed his eyes and pressed his fingertips against his temples. He could hear the trundling approach of the corpse-cart, its crude wheels rattling on the uneven stone floor of the passageway, and he itched to spring forth and get it over with. But he knew mustn’t give the guard or the slave time enough to raise the alarm.
He had to wait.
He wondered, for perhaps the five hundredth time in the past two hours, why in the name of Rezyn he had agreed to do this. He was a detective, not a mercenary, he had said so himself. Whatever that meant—the word ‘mercenary’ hadn’t been the expression that he had been looking for, but he couldn’t find an adequate replacement. Not that it mattered.
In fact, it probably never had mattered what he was. Something more than coincidence had sent the mages his way. Perhaps this something had been his name, whispered into Alasdair MacQuarrie’s ear as he slept; perhaps it had been an even subtler hint. Whatever the case, it had been Moriba that had locked that intent in his head. And she must have known that Seymour would have to accept the offer. He had been so desperate.
So very desperate.
He hadn’t had a choice, really. His body had been wasting away from lack of food; his mind had been starving for want of adventure.
A thought occurred to him then, a question so unnerving, it made his skin prickle.
Certainly, Moriba had used his desperation to force him, unwittingly, into this escapade. But what if she had done more than that? What if she was the reason why no one had come to him with a case in four months? What if she was the reason why rats had invaded his cupboard and eaten all his stored food? What if she had also triggered his alcoholism, encouraged his bad spending habits, coerced him into gambling away the money he had been saving for years?
Perhaps she had even caused the Blood Plague. Killed his friends. His family. Raif.
All so that, when the time came, she could make him do her dirty work.
Now that he thought about it, he had been offered no proof that what he was doing was right. Two Ancients telling him some sort of gibberish about the Six. That they would save the world from an unnamed Parasite.
Indeed, the Parasite had manifested inside his own head a short while ago, and it had struck him as an unsavory character. Unsavory, but weak. Seymour didn’t believe for a second that it could turn back time to shape the world to its liking. The Ancients didn’t think it could, either, but according to them, it would bring about the end of time in the process.
It hadn’t seemed powerful enough to do that, either.
Surely the Ancients knew this was so. They had ruined his life, lied to him. They were using him. For what purpose, he didn’t know, but he doubted that it would be to his benefit.
He’d been so stupid. So trusting. So naïve.
That was it, then. He’d leave. Just get out of this place. Take matters into his own hands. Whether it resulted in good or ill was of little consequence--at least the decision would be his own. He wouldn’t let the Lady Raven manipulate him any longer.
The time had come to walk away.